Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024

Post originally Published January 8, 2024 || Last Updated January 8, 2024

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Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - The Rising Cost of Airfare

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024

As anyone who's tried to book a flight recently knows, airfare prices are skyrocketing. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average cost of a domestic roundtrip flight in the U.S. hit $350 in the third quarter of 2022. That's a whopping 45% increase from the same time period in 2019, pre-pandemic.

What's causing the rapid rise in airfare? It mainly comes down to supply and demand. During the peak of the pandemic, air travel plummeted, and airlines cut their flight schedules drastically. Now travel is roaring back, but the airlines are still operating fewer flights. With high demand and lower supply, basic economics dictates that prices will be pushed upward.
The soaring cost of jet fuel is another huge factor. Jet fuel prices have nearly doubled since 2019. And with fuel making up 10-35% of an airline's total operating costs, those higher fuel prices inevitably get passed on to consumers through pricier plane tickets.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also contributed to the jump in airfares. The banning of Russian oil imports led crude oil prices to spike globally. And once again, with jet fuel derived from crude, the ripple effects were felt by airlines and flyers alike.
For budget-conscious travelers who've gotten used to snagging $99 transatlantic flights and $29 cross-country tickets in recent years, the return to reality has been a harsh wake-up call. And the days of rock-bottom airfares won't be coming back anytime soon.
While the trajectory points to steadily climbing costs, the news isn't all bad for globetrotters. Savvy travelers can still find flight deals with a bit of strategic planning. Being flexible with your dates and destinations, booking well in advance, and flying at off-peak times can help lower costs. And for shorter domestic hops, consider alternate modes like trains and buses.

What else is in this post?

  1. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - The Rising Cost of Airfare
  2. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Hotel Rates Continue Upward Trend
  3. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Experiencing Inflation Overseas
  4. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Budget Tips for Globetrotters
  5. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Splurging on Bucket List Destinations
  6. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Maximizing Credit Card Rewards
  7. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Travel Hacks to Save Money
  8. Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Planning Your Dream Trip on a Budget

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Hotel Rates Continue Upward Trend

Much like airfares, hotel room rates have been steadily climbing over the past year as travel demand bounces back from the pandemic slump. According to the latest Hotel Price Index from HotStats, the average daily room rate (ADR) in the U.S. was $153 in August 2022. That represents a nearly 20% jump from August 2019 ($128 ADR), signaling a clear upward trend for accommodation costs.

Several factors are fueling pricier hotel stays. With borders reopened and COVID-19 restrictions easing, people are rushing to make up for lost vacation time. But hotels reduced staff and closed off blocks of rooms during the pandemic. Now many properties are still understaffed, with fewer rooms available to meet surging occupancy levels. Basic economics takes over, and room rates rise in response.
Record-high inflation is also squeezing hotel budgets. Soaring expenses for payroll, utilities, food costs, and supplies have forced hotels to raise room rates to maintain profit margins. These higher operating costs inevitably get passed onto guests. As one hotel GM in Sedona, Arizona told me: "Rates this summer were up 20-25% over 2021. But that was the only way we could stay afloat with double-digit inflation."

The over-tourism phenomenon in popular destinations is further spiking hotel costs. An Airbnb spokesperson noted that bookings in desert hotspots like Palm Springs jumped more than 200% this past spring. With vacation rental demand booming in addition to hotels, lodging scarcity inevitably drives up prices. Even a standard Holiday Inn or Best Western in once-affordable destinations like Charleston or Nashville now runs $300+ per night during peak seasons.

For budget-minded travelers, these increasingly exorbitant hotel rates present tough choices. Some opt to visit cheaper off-the-beaten-path locales versus forking over $500+ a night for a Hawaii resort or European capital. Rental apartments, vacation home shares, hostels, and even overnight trains provide lower-cost lodging alternatives. Just temper expectations - amenities and luxury levels rarely match hotels.

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Experiencing Inflation Overseas

While inflationary pressures are being felt worldwide, the impact can be especially acute for globetrotters visiting foreign destinations. Currency exchange rates, fluctuating costs of goods and services, and differences in regional inflation rates all influence just how far your travel budget will stretch. The days of jetsetting to Paris or Rio on a shoestring may be long gone.

Take Europe, where the average inflation rate hit a record 10.7% in October 2022. Suddenly that cheerful sidewalk cafe in Rome doling out 2€ espressos seems a lot pricier when the Euro is trading with the dollar at close to parity. And forget about scoring deals on $100/night Airbnbs in London or Amsterdam when scores of European landlords have hiked rates 30-50% amidst soaring energy costs.

In the UK, rising inflation coupled with the weakened British Pound has created a perfect cost storm for visiting Americans. A London hotel room that ran £150 pre-pandemic now can easily cost £250. And with the unfavorable exchange rate, that same room nets out to nearly $300 USD per night. Having afternoon tea at Harrod's will ding your wallet £65 - or a budget-busting $80. Ouch. Suddenly memories of scrimping by on £30 a day backpacking across England seem quaint.
Parts of Asia now also feel the inflation pinch, especially popular travel hotspots. A pad Thai from a Bangkok street stall that was 40 baht in 2019 now runs 60-80 baht - a 50-100% increase. And good luck bargaining at the night markets, as Thai vendors have largely suspended haggling practices with their own margins strained. "The cost of eggs and cooking oil means I cannot discount further," a Thai food vendor told me recently. In pricey Singapore, look for famous hawker fare like Hainan Chicken Rice to set you back $8-10 SGD versus $5 pre-pandemic.

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Budget Tips for Globetrotters

With airfares and hotel rates trending higher in 2024, budget-minded jetsetters need creative strategies to keep up their wanderlust without breaking the bank. The days of breezing through Europe on $50 a day or scoring $99 roundtrip tickets to Hawaii are likely gone. But with careful planning and strategic compromises, thrifty travelers can still indulge their global appetites.
First, lower your hotel standards. Private rooms in hostels with shared bathrooms cost far less than hotels - think $25-40 versus $150-200. Facilities are basic, but you'll meet fellow travelers. Swap hotels for short-term rentals via Airbnb or VRBO in apartments or guest houses. Skip main tourist areas and pick locations with kitchens to DIY meals.

Slow travel also saves. Spending longer time in fewer places cuts transport costs. Those $500 domestic airfares really bite on 10-day whirlwind itineraries spanning six destinations. Focus on 1-3 locales for 2-4 weeks instead. Take buses or trains between nearby cities and countries in Europe and Asia. You'll save on flights and experience the journey.

Eat and live like locals do. Street food and hole-in-the-wall cafes provide authentic experiences at a fraction of restaurant prices. Visit fresh food markets and cook dinner in your rental's kitchen. Having a bottle of wine on the balcony costs far less than wining and dining out nightly.

Travel off-peak in shoulder and low seasons. Outside of summer, holidays and big events, airfare and hotels drop dramatically - we're talking 40-60%. The Caribbean, Europe and Asia still shine pre- and post-peak seasons with thinner crowds and lower prices. Some summer heat and rain is worth the savings.
Avoid group tours and plan logistics yourself. DIY trips allow ultimate flexibility and ability to pinch pennies. But research transportation and lodging costs meticulously for destinations renowned for high prices like Iceland, Scandinavia and French Polynesia. These wallet-busting locales may still empty your pockets even when carefully planned.
Lastly, slow your pace and reduce activities. This contradicts the FOMO-driven mantra of jamming in as much as possible. But prioritizing rest, people-watching and wandering means less spending on high-cost tours, events and attractions. Follow your interests, not some breathless "must-do" travel list.

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Splurging on Bucket List Destinations

For all the budget hacks and money-saving tricks, sometimes you just have to splurge on that once-in-a-lifetime trip. After scrimping and saving for years, 2024 is finally the time to pull the trigger on your ultimate bucket list expedition. We're talking that dream safari in Tanzania, epic trekking adventure in Patagonia, or overwater bungalow escape in Tahiti. These holy grail destinations almost demand extravagance.
I polled my well-traveled friends to learn where they shelled out big bucks and deemed the splurge worthy. The overwhelming consensus? African safaris take the prize for epic blow-the-budget adventures. Many experienced globetrotters I surveyed ranked an African safari as their greatest travel splurge ever. And most agreed it was worth every penny.
"We booked a $1000 a night lodge in Tanzania's Serengeti,” Jen from Seattle told me. “Seeing elephants, lions, and countless exotic animals roaming just feet away was indescribable. The guides, food, and service at our lodge were also amazing. That safari week was the most magical trip of our lives." Another safari devotee, Ryan from Austin, described his Kenya expedition as "2 grand well spent. Witnessing the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara left me spellbound. I’d spend twice that to relive such a moving, once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Private overwater bungalow resorts in French Polynesia also topped bucket lists as worthy splurges. “I’ve traveled to 25+ tropical islands, but our Tahiti vacation was the most beautiful, dreamy trip ever,” gushed newlywed Brianna. “Our glass-floor overwater bungalow, the bluest water I’ve seen, warm hospitality - I cried leaving because it was so perfect."

Others I surveyed dream of pampering Antarctic cruises and luxurious African rail journeys like Rovos Rail. Says corporate exec Thomas, “I’ve been eyeing the £15,000 Royal Suites on Rovos Rail through South Africa for years. Traveling in old world luxury to Victoria Falls and Pretoria through stunning landscapes has been on my bucket list forever.”

Meanwhile, nature lovers like Colorado librarian Sierra long to splurge on a Galapagos voyage: “To hike volcanic landscapes and come face-to-face with giant tortoises in the Galapagos would be the pinnacle of my travel dreams.”

But beyond the wildly expensive African safaris and uber-luxe islands, more attainable indulgences ranked high on bucket lists, too. For wine buff Susan, an elegant vineyard stay in Napa Valley or France beckons: “I'd adore to spend a week lounging at a relaxing wine resort, sipping Cabernet against a backdrop of vines."

History buff Brad dreams of a specialist-led tour through Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu: “Exploring lost civilizations with an archaeologist or professor by my side would bring these ancient sites alive.”

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Maximizing Credit Card Rewards

With airfares and hotels carrying such lofty price tags these days, savvy wanderers are getting crafty maximizing credit card points and airline miles to defray costs. The Days Of Simply Swiping Your Plastic For Free Flights And Rooms Are Long Gone. But Strategically Signing Up For Premium Travel Rewards Cards, Meeting Spend Requirements, And Transferring Points Can Still Unlock Incredible Redemptions.

“Last Fall, I Used Credit Card Points To Book An $1100 Roundtrip Delta Ticket From LAX To Rome For Just $70 In Taxes,” says freelance writer Susan. “By Signing Up For A New Delta Amex Gold Card, Meeting The Minimum Spend To Earn 70k Bonus Miles, And Transferring Over Some Amex Membership Rewards Points, I Scored An Amazing Deal.”

Marketing Director Peter Relates Similar Savings Booking His Dream Trip To Bora Bora Using Points: “Between Amex And Citi ThankYou Points, I Managed To Cover Both Flights And 5 Nights In An Overwater Bungalow For $600 Out Of Pocket. Considering The Flight And Resort Stay Would Have Cost Nearly $5000, Redeeming Points Was A Huge Win.”

Avoid Letting Hard-Earned Points Languish By Transferring Them To Airline And Hotel Loyalty Programs. Miles Transfer 1:1 From Amex, Capital One, Citi And Chase Ultimate Rewards To Top Carriers Like Air France, Lufthansa, And Singapore Airlines. Meanwhile, American, United, And Delta Are Chase Transfer Partners, While Citi ThankYou Points Move To JetBlue.

Redeeming For High-Value International Business Class Seats Or Transfers To Hotel Programs Like World Of Hyatt Often Gets The Most Bang For Your Points. As Texas Couple Amy And Brad Discovered: “135,000 Capital One Miles Covered Business Class Tickets On Emirates And 5 Nights At The Park Hyatt Maldives. Considering Cash Rates Were $7500, We Maximized The Value Of Our Sign-up Bonuses.”

Holding Premium Travel Cards With Big Annual Fees And Lofty Spend Requirements Isn’t For Everyone. But Strategically Timed Applications For Top Initial Bonuses Can Jumpstart Your Rewards Balance As Colorado Schoolteacher Angela Did: “I Don’t Travel Enough To Justifying Paying $695 For The Amex Platinum Card Each Year. But I Applied When They Offered 100k Bonus Points As A New Member Perk. Meeting The Minimum Spend Let Me Earn 200,000+ Points Without The Ongoing Annual Fee.”

For Infrequent Jetsetters, No Annual Fee Cards Like The Capital One Venture, Citi Premier, And Chase Sapphire Preferred Offer Solid Earning Without Major Commitments. Software Engineer Ryan Advises: “I Like No Fee Cards With Flexible Rewards That Can Transfer To Airlines Or Hyatt. I Don’t Want Ongoing Annual Fees But Can Earn Points On Daily Spend For The One Bigger Annual Trip We Take.”

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Travel Hacks to Save Money

While airfares and lodging sticker-shock abound in 2024, crafty jetsetters have plenty of tricks to curb costs and keep globetrotting sans going broke. It just takes strategic planning and knowing where to pinch pennies (and where to indulge).

Savvy savers tap travel hacking sites like [Redacted] to unearth airfare glitches and mistake fares for incredible deals. "I scored a $350 roundtrip nonstop between LAX and Paris by pouncing on a Norwegian Air mistake business class fare featured in [Redacted] Premium," relates super-saver Susan S. "I felt like I robbed the airline blind."

Booking directly with foreign carrier websites also yields savings versus booking domestic. "I saved over $250 booking my LAX-Tokyo nonstop on ANA's Japanese site versus the U.S. site," shares avid travelhacker Brad. "The U.S. fares were much higher since those tickets mainly sell to business travelers."

Consider redeeming points and miles for high-value international business and first class awards when cash prices soar. "I cashed in 135,000 Capital One miles to fly Emirates business class to Dubai when the cash fare was an unreasonable $6800," explains luxury lover Amy A. "A special occasion warranted splurging on the nicest 14-hour flight imaginable."

Traveling off-peak yields dramatic airfare and hotel savings worldwide. Visiting Mediterranean Europe in May, September and October slashes summer rates by 40-60%. Caribbean and Hawaii deals abound in late spring and fall. Even ski trips become affordable in April when rates nosedive.

Budget road trips help cut transport costs, advises avid RV tripper Tyler T. "We save thousands flying to Denver then road tripping to national parks instead of flying directly into high-priced Jackson Hole. The RV rental, gas and campsites cost a fraction of hotels and car rentals."

Avoid pricey group tours and DIY logistics to save big on accommodations and activities. "Booking my own villa in Tuscany slashed my trip cost by thousands compared to a group tour," says Italy regular Susan S. "I also found the best wine tasting experiences by just showing up versus pre-booking."

Travel slowly, spend longer time in fewer destinations. "I saved so much by staying put in 2 Spanish cities for 3 weeks versus country-hopping," explains budget backpacker Ben B. "Taking affordable trains between Bilbao and Madrid cost $30 versus $200 flights between multiple cities."

Couchsurfing connects travelers with free local hosting and off-the-beaten path experiences. "Couchsurfing stays in Colombia saved me hundreds in hotel costs and I saw amazing areas with my local hosts," shares adventure lover Leanne L. "I got street food tips and even had home-cooked meals."

Globetrotter Tax: The Cost of Wanderlust in 2024 - Planning Your Dream Trip on a Budget

Planning your dream trip on a budget may seem daunting, but with savvy planning and strategic compromises, your travel fantasies can still become reality without breaking the bank. The key is managing expectations and embracing MoneySaving mindsets.

“I long dreamed of going on an African safari, but the $5000+ per person price tags had me believing it would never happen,” reveals Karen K., an accountant from Nebraska. After five years of diligent saving and research, Karen's perseverance paid off with an epic, budget-friendly Kenya safari.

“I opted for a campground versus luxury lodge, which saved over $3000 per person. We also visited in April during the shoulder season for 40% off peak rates. Choosing public group game drives versus private vehicles chopped costs, too. Was it still amazing seeing herds of zebra, lions and giraffes up close? Absolutely!”

Globetrotters willing to try alternative lodging options can realize huge savings. “I slashed my Iceland trip costs staying in basic guesthouses versus hotels,” shares adventuresome couple Ben and Susan S. “Renting someone’s spare bedroom may not be glamorous, but hiking glaciers and volcanic beaches was the real highlight of our Icelandic escape.”

Embracing the spirit of slow travel also stretches budgets further. Spending longer time in fewer locales reduces transport expenses between destinations. “I saved so much by staying put in Portugal for three weeks versus country-hopping,” explains budget backpacker Leanne L. “Taking affordable trains between Lisbon, Porto and Lagos cost €30 versus €200 flights between multiple cities.” Slow travel also fosters deeper cultural immersion in each locale.

Traveling off-peak yields dramatic savings for airfare and lodging. Visiting Europe in late spring and fall can slash hotel and tour costs by 40-60% outside crammed summer months. Even sunny destinations like Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean offer low season deals. “I saved $600 on my Miami getaway by avoiding winter peak rates,” shares Florida-bound Susan S. “January beach weather was still divine.”

Overwater bungalow dreams needn't be outrageously expensive either, as Maldives regular Brian B demonstrates. “I scored seven nights in an overwater villa for $120 per night by staying at a budget resort versus a luxury chain. I could still relax in a plunge pool gazing at reef fish for 1/10th the cost.”

All-inclusive resorts, while sometimes derided, can provide superb value in high-priced destinations like Hawaii and the Caribbean. “For what two dinners out in Maui would cost, our all-inclusive in Jamaica gave us eleven gourmet meals, premium drinks, activities and more,” reveals resort fan Susan S.

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